In the days after Hurricane Irma’s landfall, multiple federal agencies came to Florida to assist residents, assess damage and help rebuild a stronger, more resilient Sunshine State. Working under the National Disaster Recovery Framework, teams of experts from FEMA and other federal agencies formed the Interagency Recovery Coordination (IRC) group.
Recovering from a disaster requires communities to organize, plan a path forward, and gather the resources to execute the plan. But, at times of stress, with cleanup operations underway, urgent needs to address and people living in makeshift housing, some communities and local governments struggle to draw a blueprint. The IRC pulled in staff from a variety of disciplines and assigned them to work with communities as they resolved hurricane-related issues.
Coordinated Place Based Recovery Support
The IRC, together with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and Department of Economic Opportunity, reviewed all Florida counties to determine the severity of impact from Hurricane Irma. Based on the survey, teams of disaster recovery professionals were assembled and dispatched to Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Monroe counties. The Coordinated Place Based Recovery Support teams worked with local leaders to prioritize issues and develop cost-effective strategies.
The teams offered technical assistance on a wide range of issues including:
- Hardening critical facilities
- Electrical grid improvement
- Business continuity planning
- Water and sewer upgrades
- Restoration of historic structures
- Affordable housing
- Resources and training for workforce development
- Grants management guidance
- Improvements to emergency evacuation routes
- Sheltering medically-fragile populations
In all, more than 60 recovery issues and strategies were identified to help the counties rebuild in ways that increase resiliency. The teams used MAX-TRAX, a web-based software program, to record, update in real time, and share community and county issues, strategies and actions with federal, state and local partners.
Additional IRC Contributions to Florida’s Recovery
The IRC created a work plan and facilitated a study to find out why St. Johns Avenue in Palatka, Florida has a history of flooding and drainage issues. Based on the study results, Putnam County will be able to take action to temporarily ease some of the flooding impact until a permanent solution can be found.
IRC staff offered technical assistance to state and local agencies and suggested sources for loans and grants to pay for recovery projects, including a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to fund five Local Disaster Recovery Manager positions.
IRC-sponsored training on health care, child care, business resiliency, disaster preparedness and environmental protection helped communities to protect public health, advance sustainable development, and integrate mitigation measures into the Hurricane Irma recovery.
Before Irma, Florida had not had a landfalling hurricane in 12 years. There may not be another hurricane for another 12 years, but whatever happens this year, IRC staff helped communities recover and rebuild in ways that will make Florida stronger and more resilient.
For additional information on Hurricane Irma recovery, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL.